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The artifact vehicle Renegade Freighter has the ability

Whenever Renegade Freighter attacks, it gets +1/+1 and gains trample until end of turn.

Given that trample is only generally relevant when attacking, this should behave basically identically to:

Trample

Whenever Renegade Freighter attacks, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

At first, I thought that maybe this was because it would be strange to have a non-creature have trample, so it only gets trample at a time that it is a creature. But then I saw Fleetwheel Cruiser, which is another vehicle that does always have trample. In fact, Untethered Express is even more similar, in that it does have a when-attack ability, yet it also just always has Trample.

Renegade Freighter could be seen as slightly weaker as worded, because something like Stifle could prevent it from getting Trample. However, that seems like a small enough thing that it wouldn't be specifically designed around.

Is it known why this card only gets trample when it attacks? A good answer could either point to any statements about it from the development team, or to information about general templating choices where this is a consistent design choice. Or finally, perhaps there is an important difference between always having trample vs only having trample when attacking that I am missing.

  • Question: are there any Vehicles from that set or earlier which have properties like first strike or trample? (Maybe they where just avoiding having non-creature artifacts with trample that early on in the Vehicle mechanic? Or a design left over from even earlier in Vehicle design?) – Yakk Mar 22 '18 at 16:57
  • @Yakk Fleetwheel Cruiser was mentioned in the question as an example. – David Z Mar 22 '18 at 18:38
4

Renegade Freighter is a Common. The Head Designer of Magic has stated twice ten years apart that a Common should only have one ability, I don't recall any posts where he ever recanted the position:

https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/common-courtesy-2002-06-10

https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/common-knowledge-2011-04-18

Your card should do one thing. If it's a creature, just give it one ability, whether that's a keyword, activated ability or a triggered ability.

Clearly 'Crew' got a pass on that rule for this set; but it is otherwise adhered to among the Common vehicles. It seems like a feasible claim that the designer of this card was just being "clever" in "only having one ability."

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There are some more relevant edge cases where the difference actually matters. Two of the cards that were in standard at the same time as Renegade Freighter were Odric, Lunarch Marshal and Majestic Myriarch. Both of those check for abilities including Trample at the beginning of combat, so in both cases, they can find Trample on Untethered Express, but not on Renegade Freighter.

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  • Stifle would also like to have a say. Because trample is part of the triggered ability, stifle can stop it (although I would at least consider stifling the crewing instead). – Arthur Mar 22 '18 at 7:11
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    Do you think it's likely that they actually did this to make Renegade Freighter very slightly weaker though? – GendoIkari Mar 22 '18 at 12:37
  • Ah, the great mysteries of Magic's R&D crew. – J. Sallé Mar 22 '18 at 13:15
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    I suspect that this is the correct answer, though if you want to know for sure you can always try Blogatog. – Malco Mar 22 '18 at 13:38
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I'd say the most likely reason is space in the textbox. "Trample" would have required an additional line of rules text (since abilities like that get their own line), which seems like it would have a hard time fitting in.

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  • If they wanted to fit more lines, they could've skipped the reminder text on Crew. So that's not really a problem, I think. – Arthur Mar 22 '18 at 8:38
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    Skipping reminder text on a new mechanic on a common is a big problem. – Bakabaka Mar 22 '18 at 10:33
  • @Bakabaka Fair enough. Didn't look at the rarity and set. – Arthur Mar 22 '18 at 12:04
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    But Untethered Express seems to have the same amount of text. In fact, it looks like the reminder text on Untethered Express is actually smaller in order to fit on less lines. – GendoIkari Mar 22 '18 at 12:35
  • @GendoIkari Untethered Express is an uncommon, as opposed to a common, and it's in the second set that had vehicles after their introduction. I guess that's legit ground for reducing the type size by a point :) For added irony, read the Express's flavour text. – Bakabaka Mar 22 '18 at 13:30

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